5 Tips to Make This Thanksgiving the Best One Yet

  • Mindful Eating – There’s no doubt about it. Thanksgiving is all about the food. Enjoy it! Chew each bite slowly. Savor the unique tastes. Don’t rush through the meal. If you’re hankering for seconds, wait ten minutes between finishing the first round and helping yourself to the second.
  • Freedom_From_WantFill 2/3rds of your Plate with Fruits and Veggies – There’s sure to be a smorgasbord. Go easy on the turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes. If it’s not on the menu, add a green salad to the mix.
  • Respond instead of Reacting – Sometimes buttons get pushed when we gather for the holidays. If that happens, try to take a deep breath before putting in your two cents. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Limit Alcohol – See numbers 1 and 3 above. Being sensible with your alcohol consumption makes mindful eating and responding appropriately MUCH EASIER!
  • Express your Thanks and Gratitude – More important than even the food, gratitude is the backbone of Thanksgiving. Showing your appreciation helps to increase your levels of well-being and happiness. It’s also associated with more energy, optimism, and empathy.

IMAGE:
Freedom from Want
Norman Rockwell, 1943
Oil on canvas
Norman Rockwell museum, Stockbridge, Mass.

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Taking the Fear out of Vegetables

Eat more vegetables. They are loaded with fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. We’ve all heard it, and know we should be doing it. But, if you’re not used to regularly preparing vegetables, fear of the unknown can be a show stopper.

If you can relate — print out the chart below, or copy it to your phone or iPad for easy reference. Don’t let fear of veggies stop you from improving your diet. Knowledge is power!

Veggie cooking cheat sheet

All You Need to Know about Coconut Oil

1)   Coconut oil is a tropical oil, as are palm oil, palm kernel oil and cocoa butter.

2)   Though it’s called an oil, it can be solid, semi-solid, or liquid at room temperature.

3)   One tablespoon of coconut oil contains 117 calories, 14 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, and no vitamins or minerals. In other words, coconut oil is high in fat and calories and devoid of nutrients.

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4)   It has no cholesterol.

5)   Coconut oil also has a high smoke point that makes it resistant to oxidation (i.e. becoming rancid).

6)   Coconut oil is used in many processed foods (especially baked goods and movie theater popcorn) because it’s relatively inexpensive and gives foods a crisp texture.

7)   You can find endless uses for it in beauty magazines and blogs as it’s an effective and delicious-smelling moisturizer for skin and hair.

8)   Coconut oil contains an unusual blend of short- and medium-chain fatty acids. Forty-four percent are lauric (considered heart unfriendly) while 16.8% are myristic (heart friendly).  A few studies have found this unique fatty acid combination improves HDL and LDL cholesterol ratios. Some experts think these studies are flawed, but most agree that the negatives of coconut oil (high in saturated fat) outweigh its alleged heart health benefits.

9)   Experts also agree coconut oil is better than butter, other animal fats, and partially hydrogenated oils that contain trans fats, but it has more strikes against it than do liquid vegetable oils.

10)  Anecdotal evidence finds some improvement in Alzheimer’s patients who add coconut oil to their diets. There has been no clinical testing or scientific evidence to prove these claims.

11)  Lauric fatty acid has anti-microbial properties, though some of it is removed during processing.

The bottom line is that coconut oil is a saturated fat that should be used in moderation. (Saturated fat should constitute only 5-7% of total of total fat intake). There may be some promising nutritional and medicinal aspects of coconut oil; however, it’s important to look at your diet as a whole instead of focusing on certain foods or isolated nutrients. According to Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., of Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health. “We can’t say coconut oil is healthy or not healthy, it depends on the rest of the diet.”

SOURCES

Alzheimer’s Association, Alternative Treatments.

Andrew Weil, M.D., New View of Coconut Oil, May 7, 2013.

JeffNovick.com, Marketing Junk Food: Don’t Go Cuckoo Over Coconut Oil, April 10, 2008.

WebMD Expert Column, The Truth About Coconut Oil, by Kathleen M. Zelman, M.P.H., R.D., L.D.

What Do You Tolerate?

It takes a lot of energy to stay on top of things. It takes even more energy to grow, be productive, effective and positive. So it’s always a good idea to take a close look at anything that saps our precious energy.

In the world of personal coaching, we call certain energy-zappers “tolerations.” They can include people, situations, behaviors, pressures, etc. Somewhere along the line you’ve decided to put up with a few things. Maybe you’re a little numb to them by now.

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In his book The Portable Coach, Thomas Leonard theorized that our tolerations reveal an awful lot about what’s going on inside of us. They can tell us what we think we deserve and how we choose to live.

When I work with clients, especially in the area of stress-reduction, I ask  five questions designed to help them identify, understand, and eliminate their tolerations:

1) What are you tolerating? It can be large or small. Maybe it’s the burned out light bulb in your closet that results in your choosing an outfit in semi-darkness for the past week? Or it could be the way your spouse criticizes you in public.

2) Why are you tolerating it? Common answers are “I’m lazy,” “I don’t care,” “I’m too busy,” “It’s not that important.”

3) Okay, dig a little deeper. What’s the REAL reason you’re tolerating this? “I don’t want to rock the boat.” “It’s easier to tolerate than to change.” Giving honest answers here is an important step! It shows you where you’ve lost sight of what’s truly important to you, where your boundaries have been breached.

lactose4) What is the cost of the toleration to you and those around you? This is another big one. Is this just an occasional annoyance, or is this toleration affecting your happiness, the quality of your relationships, your stress level and your health?

5) What action can you take to eliminate the toleration? Maybe it’s a list of household chores you can knock off on a Saturday morning (Change the light bulb, already!). Other times changes require more introspection and maybe some outside support from a friend or coach. Either way, addressing your tolerations clears the path of friction that builds up there.

We may not acknowledge the stress we put ourselves under by tolerating niggling inconveniences, a messy house, annoying people, work that isn’t challenging, or people who mistreat us. Remember, whether minute or huge, your tolerations can be recognized and eliminated. And it’s not about fixing everyone and everything around you, it’s about being mindful of your own choices and behaviors.

Apricot Chocolate Truffles

Apricot Chocolate Truffles are a great choice when you’re craving just a little something sweet. Made of pure, simple ingredients, these truffles pack a lot of flavor and nutrition. They aren’t the prettiest things to look at, but you’ll get over that once you taste them.

Ingredients

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4 large Medjool dates
6 unsulphured dried apricots
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 TBSP raw cacao powder
2 TBSP shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup walnuts
pinch of salt

Directions

Remove the pit from the dates. Add dates and apricots to food processor or blender. Mix/ chop until the fruit has the consistency of paste. Add vanilla, cacao powder, coconut, salt and walnuts. Blend all ingredients together.

Remove the mixture from the food processor/ blender. With damp hands, roll the mixture into small truffles. 

Chill for about 1 hour before serving. This makes a small batch: about 10-12 truffles.

Download a PDF of this recipe.
Recipe adapted from Living Healthy with Chocolate.